It was never in doubt
It's not entirely true
to say Hawthorn were guaranteed this premiership win, but once the game
was underway the difference between the Hawks and West Coast was stark.
The victors were comfortable in their own game, while the Eagles
struggled not only on the ball but in choosing what to do and what not
to do around the field.
Perhaps nothing shows the contrast more
than how Hawthorn scored their early goals to what the visitors were
doing when they made it forward. Three of the Hawks' first-half goals
were from kick-ins, which not only explains just how easily they were
moving the ball around but also proves just how costly West Coast's
mistakes were. As we mentioned in the heroes and goats of the grand final,
errors such as Luke Shuey's decision not to pass and a couple of missed
set shots were particularly important in the context of the game while
it was still on the line.
By the end of the afternoon 15 of
Hawthorn's 16 goals were assisted, as Hawthorn picked the Eagles'
defence apart kick by kick and handball by handball. That was absolutely
key to defeating West Coast, but it came in different forms. Early in
the first quarter there was a focus on long, high kicks that would
trouble the likes of Jeremy McGovern and Will Schofield, and the wind
certainly helped the Hawks get some distance on those bombs. Slowly but
surely Hawthorn went the other way to find players on leads and it
wasn't long before the Eagles' confidence and ability to play as a team
had been broken.
West Coast couldn't match the might
of the highlights of the Eagles' season was their many contributors,
but at the MCG they were totally shut down by the Hawks. Even their
major ball-winners – Andrew Gaff, Shuey and Matt Priddis – were largely
ineffective, as they had precious little run around them. Josh Hill
wasn't able to receive the ball in the areas where he could do the most
damage, Chris Masten was generally ineffective, and numerous others
through the midfield played some of their worst games. Elliot Yeo
managed only five disposals, the lowest of his career, while as a result
of Hawthorn's domination, West Coast captain Shannon Hurn wasn't able
to contribute out of the back half.
The question is: where the
Eagles will go from here? They're young enough and they'll no doubt use
their home-ground advantage to finish in the top eight again, but coach
Adam Simpson has to use the experience of losing to such an efficient
outfit as a motivator both on and off the field. With a tough 2016
fixture confirmed by losing the grand final, West Coast will play more
games that matter and therefore more games where they will need to lift
their work rate and pressure off the ball. Simpson was handed a harsh
lesson by his former mentor on Saturday, but one that should be quite
Schoenmakers winning himself a new reputation
McAveney commented during the game that Ryan Schoenmakers was probably
the last man picked for Hawthorn's grand final 22. If you believe that
to be the case, then you can see why the Hawks managed to romp to
victory. Previously a whipping boy for his club's fans, Schoenmakers
backed himself in to win a regular spot despite the arrival of James
Frawley. Instead of heading over to Adelaide to play with the Crows on a
long-term deal, 'Schoey' held off his teammates to play the last three
finals of the year and he saved his best for last. He put himself in the
contest to get the ball and was rewarded with a third-quarter goal that
would break the game open. His work at the MCG will probably help the
off-contract premiership player at the negotiation table when the trade
period opens. But will he want to leave the club? We doubt it.
The veteran Hawks will never slow down
Hodge's second-quarter goal was not something that should be possible.
Off one step, if that, the skipper split the middle with an outstanding
snap from the boundary that surely had neutrals all over the country
jumping up and down. Meanwhile Sam Mitchell showed why we wouldn't have
been surprised if he did win the Brownlow Medal – or the Norm Smith – as
he was consistently brilliant in the middle and unbelievably
controlled. Relatively unheralded this season compared to some of his
past exploits, Shaun Burgoyne will be 33 at the start of the next
campaign but you wouldn't expect him to lose any of his marvellous
As we watch Hawthorn's regular success we realise the
number of players who still have years to offer. Hodge, Mitchell and
Burgoyne, plus Brian Lake and Josh Gibson, might only have one or two
seasons left, but as they retire look who's still left. Cyril Rioli,
Jordan Lewis and Jarryd Roughead will carry on their legacy with aplomb –
but there's still another premiership to aim for before the Hawks need
to worry about that.
was made of the weather and how it reached a record maximum temperature
for a grand final, but did anyone care about it by the time the game was
underway? By then it's just a number.
- Three-peat? Where do we
live again? We'll never understand the obsession with calling Hawthorn's
triumph a 'three-peat' over a 'hat-trick'.
- Nic Naitanui got his
hands to the ball often enough in the ruck, but when his midfielders
are being held down so easily it's no surprise his impact on the game
was low. It all looked so good from the first bounce but it was a bridge
too far for the 25-year-old big man.
- We can't remember the last
time Matt Priddis was shut out of a game so easily. It just doesn't
happen, and he'll be filthy for it.